Vaccines to be distributed to administration centres in stages, says Health Ministry

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): The supply of vaccines would be distributed to each Vaccine Administration Centre (VAC) in stages according to the number of vaccine recipients and based on the suitability of time.

The Health Ministry’s Pharmacy Practice and Development Division director A’tia Hashim said the procedure was to ensure and maintain the quality of Comirnaty vaccine produced by Pfizer-BioNTech which is temperature sensitive and has a certain shelf life.

She said the Comirnaty vaccine should be stored in an ultra-low temperature freezer (ULTF) with a temperature range from -90°C to -60°C.

“When sent or picked up by VAC, the vaccine will be transferred to a cold box with a storage temperature of 2°C to 8°C and then placed in a top loading freezer with the same storage temperature upon arrival at the centre.

“Comirnaty vaccine stored in a cold box at 2°C to 8°C has a shelf life of up to five days or 120 hours, ” she told Bernama when contacted.

The National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme officially begins today with Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin being the first individual in the country to receive the vaccine.

The implementation of the three-phase programme, which started two days earlier than originally scheduled on Feb 26, will see more than 500,000 frontliners receive the vaccine during the first phase which will last until April.

Apart from Muhyiddin, also scheduled to receive the vaccine today are the Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah and four other staff from the Ministry of Health.

Commenting further, A’tia said the process of sending the vaccine to VAC only involves the use of cold boxes because ULTF is static and is only placed in the designated vaccine storage centres.

She said the movement of the vaccine supply is according the plan or schedule of each VAC apart from using the vehicles provided by the respective VAC.

A’tia said the same distribution procedure also applies to the supply of vaccines to rural or remote areas.

“If there is a need for vaccine delivery using vehicles other than land transport (for rural areas), the VAC will plan (for helicopter service), ” she said.

On the latest status of the Sinovac vaccine which is expected to arrive on Feb 27, she said the vaccine is still in the process of being evaluated by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA). - Bernama

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